After what’s happened on Castle this current season (the fourth), my enjoyment of this series has dropped. I thought maybe going backwards would remind me of what I liked more about it, but if you want to follow that path as well, I suggest skipping the season opener and the commentary track that goes with it. It’s yet another example of “how artificially can we reset the status quo THIS time?” The cliffhangers seem like they’ll advance the characters and their relationships; the season premieres hit the reset button as fast as possible so as not to disturb the cash cow.
Some of the episodes also seem to be scripted around whatever scenes will look best in the ads. Still, it’s those silly teasing moments that keep me watching. I think there’s a mismatch here — I want the show to be Moonlighting, and the creators sometimes seem to want it to be some kind of blend of Die Hard and The Sopranos.
I enjoy the stand-alone mystery episodes best, and I wish they’d stay far away from the mythology installments about Beckett’s mother’s murder. Just wrap it up and be done with it. There are plenty of other kinds of situations that will put them in mortal danger and allow for the resulting dramatic moments. I will say that watching their faces during these moments shows just how good an actor Nathan Fillion is. I love his reactions.
I also suggest skipping the “Starter Kit” summary of the show so far; the only thing I enjoyed about it was being reminded how fast Beckett had grown out her hair and swapped the sensible cop clothes and shoes for ridiculous heels. I know this show isn’t meant to be great or artistically accomplished, just evening pablum for the tired and bored, but it is disappointing to me how obvious the mechanics have become. Yet I still enjoy watching it, and I do notice new things on the second time though.
When I had a very bad couple of days this month, I gave up the internet except for Castle fanfic. Reading those stories gave me a brand-new appreciation for some of the episodes (as well as a rationale for the heels), so yay for fan-created explanations and enjoyment. Those pieces provide what the official writers won’t or can’t — tales that focus almost entirely on getting the two characters together and having them share the secrets the TV show makes them keep. They’ve made me like the episodes so much more. I know I shouldn’t confuse the two, but the best stories take off directly from television things and make them into something more. Many of them take things the characters have shown the viewers but kept secret from each other and finally have the two share them together.
(Plus, in this particular case, there’s a fascinating continuum, since the series has released its own fanfic in the official “Castle-written” novels. Man, if I was still in grad school, I’d be choosing this for my thesis. Instead, I’ve gotten a tad obsessive over it.)
Beckett (Stana Katic) and Castle (Nathan Fillion) in L.A.
Best part of the show: Castle getting outsmarted by his daughter Alexis. Frequently. She also gets a continuing storyline about her first boyfriend relationship. Other high point episodes and moments for me were:
- “Punked”, the one with the steampunk duel, just for the costuming
- the dead doctor and the male nurse, because the mystery in “Anatomy of a Murder” kept moving with plenty of twists
- the one with the body caused by explosive decompression, because it features Lyle Lovett as a mysterious agent and Castle has to meet his daughter’s boyfriend’s parents. Also in “Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind”, there’s a Chinese joke as an allusion to Serenity.
- when Laura Prepon, being considered to play “Nikki Heat” in the movie, hangs out with the detectives and turns herself into a Beckett clone. One of the best episodes of the season!
- best bomb defusing scene ever, in a two-part terrorism episode (“Setup” and “Countdown”)
- that’s followed by the one where they have to figure out who killed the “Temptation Lane” soap opera writer (“One Life to Lose”), because I have huge fondness for TV detectives investigating television shows, plus Beckett explains “shipper” to Castle. (I don’t buy for a minute he wouldn’t know what that was, but even if so, it wouldn’t be the first time he pretended he didn’t know something just to flatter her. Ahem, Forbidden Planet.)
- the case of the dead swimmer in the pool, “The Dead Pool”, where Castle works with a protege writer who makes him jealous, because any episode with the writers’ poker game is better, only this one is sad because they remember the loss of Stephen J. Cannell.
- “To Love and Die in L.A.”, the trip to Hollywood guest-starring D.B. Sweeney. Man, that scene where he welcomes her to first class.
(I don’t know where this promo photo came from — I found it at the Castle wiki — but it’s weirdly terrific.)
For bonus material, in addition to a sprinkling of deleted scenes and a four-minute blooper reel (which caused actual laughs), there’s a 22-minute “Murder They Wrote” roundtable with author Michael Connelly, show creator Andrew Marlowe, producer Rob Bowman, and shockingly, Brian Michael Bendis. Turns out that this feature exists to heavily promote the then-upcoming Castle graphic novel, which is why he’s there, since he co-wrote it. (It’s Disney, so no bonus can exist without selling something.) Shame, this could have been a really interesting discussion if we didn’t waste so much time on hearing Bendis blathering about how cool it was he came to write Spider-Man. Bless Nathan Fillion for showing up and bringing some much-needed humor (and attractiveness) to the session. (My favorite thing about the comic is how, when Castle shows off the cover in the final episode this season, he calls Derrick Storm “the new sheriff on the spinner rack.” Otherwise, I couldn’t finish it.)
The eight-minute “Castle Goes Hollywood” covers the L.A. episode, with brief comments by the actors and some alternate takes on the Gene Simmons cameo. It also answered one of my questions, after seeing some of the weird outfit choices for Stana Katic, about who the costume designer is. Seeing him and his hat explained a lot. The DVD set also has a three-and-a-half-minute featurette on how the Murder Boards are put together and a music video for “Get on the Floor” from the “Lucky Stiff” episode, featuring footage of Beckett and Castle in the club scene.